After five years, the Parent Coordinator program, which was ended in May 2013 by the PA Supreme Court is being reinstated in a heavily revised version. The new rule which will amend rule 1915.11-1 becomes effective on March 1, 2019.
There are many changes from the previous incarnation of the Rule. The Rule will allow parent coordinators in jurisdictions that permit them.
Parent coordinators will be utilized differently than before, in that they will only issue recommendations to the court about certain custody issues when the parents cannot agree.
Parent coordinators will only be appointed in cases after a Final Custody Order has been granted and will not be used in cases where there is an active PFA.
There will be specific requirements to become a parent coordinator and the time period for an appointment in a particular case will be limited. Also, the issues that they can be used for are limited.
Among those where a parent coordinator will be able to make a recommendation to the court are:
- custody exchanges;
- school issues;
- extracurricular activities;
- child care; and
- exchange of information.
Moreover the recommendations will be made using a specific form. There will also be a hearing format and appeal process.
Bottom line, this looks to be a well drafted amendment for a niche area of high-conflict custody cases that will expedite disputes faster than they could be addressed through normal litigation while reducing stress for all involved.
While this development in PA Custody Law will not impact all custody litigants, it provides another tool that may be used by the courts in specific circumstances.